Local Sports, Sports, University

University boys pull ahead of Wheeling Park, 59-57

WHEELING – University and Wheeling Park went toe-to-toe Wednesday night in boys’ high school basketball action. Both West Virginia Class AAAA squads made 20 field goals on 45 attempts, with each cashing in five three-point goals.

However, the difference was the visiting Hawks (6-4) tickled the twine 14 times (16 attempts) while the No. 7 ranked Patriots (7-2) only made 12 of 21 in a 59-57 setback inside the ‘Palace on the Hill.’

“It’s always a battle up here and we don’t traditionally play well when we come up here,” University head coach Joe Schmidle said. “Wheeling Park usually has something to do with that, though.

“We had way too many turnovers but we were really good from the (free throw) line.”

University used the free-throw line to its advantage in the fourth quarter when the Hawks knocked down 8 of 9, including a 5-for-6 effort from James Fortney-Garbart and a pair from Carson Ford, who tallied eight of his 11 points in the fourth quarter. He nailed two of his three triples in the final eight minutes, as well.

“He is usually a starter for us, but he stepped up big tonight,” Schmidle added.

Wheeling Park, which lost its second straight and played without the services of sophomore sensation Aiden Davis who is out with an ankle injury, led 15-12 at the end of one quarter as Xander Gibson banked in a 30-footer from the right wing just ahead of the buzzer.

However, the Hawks outscored Park 28-19 over the next two quarters for a 40-34 edge heading into the final chapter.

John Coleman netted eight points in the second quarter to help the visitors build a 26-25 margin at the half, and Fortney-Garbart 10 of his game-high 23 in the third quarter.

“I thought John led us in the second quarter and James played an all-around solid game,” Schmidle praised of Coleman and Foortney-Garbart.

A conventional three-point play by the Patriots’ Cole Wilkinson, in his first game back from an ankle injury, cut the deficit to 45-44 with 4:49 left to play, but Fortney-Garbart hit a pair of free throws and K.J. Demko hit the front end of a two-shot foul. After his second was off target, Ford connected on his third trey for a 50-45 reading.

University led 55-49 with 34.9 seconds remaining after two charity tosses by Rafael Barcinas, but the Patriots’ Mykel Davis buried a three to keep the hosts alive at 55-52 with 28.5 seconds showing. Both teams made a pair of free throws and the Hawks were guilty of their 13th turnover with 20 seconds on the clock, but Wheeling Park missed a shot and Charles Nemecheck rebounded and was quickly fouled. He made both and Gibson hit a bonus goal as the buzzer sounded.

“They hurt us inside with some offensive rebounding in the second and third quarters, and we did miss some free throws but I’m proud of my guys for fighting back,” Wheeling Park head coach Michael Jebbia said. “I thought late in the second and early in the third quarter allowed them some space and we tried to come back but just fell a little short.”

Jebbia didn’t use the injury to Davis, the team’s leading scorer, as an excuse.

“We have a senior-laden team and we had our opportunities,” he allowed. “We’ve only had our full team for the first three games due to injuries, but I think that will help us down the stretch because it allowed some other guys to get quality playing time.”

Coleman joined Fortney-Garbart and Ford in double figures with 10 points. Nemecheck had a game-high seven rebounds.

Gibson led the Patriots with 17 points, one more than Davis who fouled out late. Brett Phillips added 10 points and tied Wilkinson with team honors with five rebounds.

This was University’s second consecutive win in the northern panhandle as it defeated John Marshall last Friday.

“We have a stretch where we play something like 11 of 12 games on the road, and we come back up here next Thursday (Jan. 19) to play Linsly,” Schmidle noted.


University 59, Wheeling Park 57

UHS  12  14  14  15  –  59

WP 15  10    9  23  –  57

UNIVERSITY (59) – Coleman 5 0-0 10; Nemecheck 3 1-2 7; Cool 0 0-0 0; Barcinas 3 2-2 8; Fortney-Garbart 6 9-10 23; Ford 3 2-2 11; Farrell 0 0-0 0; Bandy 0 0-0 0; Hudson 0 0-0 0; Totals: 20-45 14-16 59. 

WHEELING PARK (57) – Stephens 0 4-6 4; M. Davis 6 3-4 16; Gibson 6 1-2 17; Wilkinson 3 1-1 7; Phillips 5 0-2 10; Huffman 0 0-0 0; Demko 0 3-6 3; Totals: 20-45 12-21 57

3-point goals: U – Fortney-Garbart (2), Ford (3); WP – Gibson (4), M. Davis